Going to California * Part One

Ever since I was little, I’ve had a fascination with San Fransisco. Maybe because of Christopher Walken and Roger Moore’s fisticuffs on the Golden Gate Bridge in A View to a Kill. Or perhaps it was the spookily alluring Escape from Alcatraz that captivated me.

Certainly as a teenager, West Coast music of the sixties and seventies were the main sounds booming from my system. Literature has inspired me too, such as Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City along with Beat Generation classics. Beatnik dress code is one I’ve often favoured too 🙂

A few years ago, I made a decision that I was going to celebrate my 40th birthday in San Fransisco, by hook or by crook. I also knew it could be pricey and frankly, I didn’t have much in the way of cash, so I saved. A fiver a week over four years would give me enough for a flight and some accommodation I thought, I could add to this as I went along.

Fast forward three and half years and I have a baby. A baby! A baby McDuff and I going to San Fransisco, was that possible? In pregnancy I’d pondered the notion of going to California for my fortieth with a baby, but discounted it almost immediately with the inner wisdom of ‘see how you go at being a parent first’.

I discussed the idea with my longest standing trusted mum friends, who completely gave me the confidence to make such a trip. They reminded me of being me solo and this is what I would have done, once upon a time, which is something any new mother needs reminding of it seems.

Airports are such exciting yet anxiety riddled places. There used to be a time that if I flew at all, I’d either have a valium or a vodka to get on a plane. Not the sort of thing that could be done with a small child.

Long haul too, eleven hours to San Fran. Wowsers, but then, what is the worst thing (apart from crashing and I didn’t want to think about that) that could have happened? People not like me very much because of a screaming child? I think I was at a point on my emotional journey where I was starting to care less of others judgements anyway.

Plus Monty was such a contented, calm baby my instincts told me he would handle it.

Practically too, how could I handle carrying all this stuff? So I did a dress rehearsal with a friend “okay so this is me walking to the check out desk” and so on. Another friend encouraged me saying it’d be easier to travel with an eight month old than a toddler. Now, I understand what she means 😉

Decision made, we were going. San Fransisco and a West Coast road trip for my birthday. Going a bit earlier than my birthday as we could then take in Dia De Los Muertos, Day of the Dead festival. As San Fransisco has such a thriving Mexican community it’s celebrated there in a big way.

Day of the Dead signifies tenacity and rejuvenation, I didn’t know that when we went. Looking back, this seems symbolic to me personally. I had also wanted to somehow make amends with America.

Twelve years ago, at the start of my mental health journey, I got stranded in New York. It’s another story but it was scary. I’d said before we went that I had to go back to that land, the West Coast of it, to make my personal peace and create new memories.

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